Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar showed on Monday night why he’s still among the game’s best defensive players. With the Jays up 3-2 in the top of the sixth inning, Mookie Betts led off by drilling a 92 MPH two-seam fastball from Marcus Stroman into right-center field. Pillar gave chase and, as he has become known for doing, left his feet entirely to dive and make the catch before the ball hit the ground. Pillar’s momentum took him right into the fence.
We’ve seen some legendary grabs this season — Austin Jackson’s comes to mind — but this ranks right up there with the best of them.
On Wednesday, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman was hit by Cardinals pitcher Ramon Santos. It marked the seventh time an Astros batter had been hit in spring training exhibition games thus far, the highest total among all teams. As expected, teams are exacting revenge for the Astros’ cheating ways!
Well, not quite. The pitch Santos hit Bregman with was a 3-2 breaking ball that got away. Usually, if a pitcher is going to hit a batter as an act of revenge, he’ll attempt to do it with a first-pitch fastball.
José Altuve was also hit by a pitch against the Tigers on Sunday. The pitch, which looks to be the off-speed variety, appeared to graze his uniform as opposed to hitting him flush, so it was likely unintentional on the part of pitcher Nick Ramirez.
Other Astros to have been hit in spring training thus far: Alex De Goti, Aledmys Díaz, Osvaldo Duarte, Dustin Garneau, and Jake Meyers. Not exactly a who’s-who list of Code Breaker operatives.
Will some pitchers intentionally throw at the Astros this year? Almost certainly, despite commissioner Rob Manfred’s warning. Have they been doing it from the moment exhibition games began earlier this month? Certainly not.